Forward soundstage

Could someone comment on what they feel is a ‘forward soundstage’. The BHKs were described this way in the absolute sound and I struggle with it. I would say most of the gear I have owned does not have a forward soundstage. Music seems to appear in space behind the speakers. So what does this mean in reference to the bhk monos? Thx Tim

My current speakers, the Sonist Audio Concerto 4 definitely have a “forward” soundstage. The singer’s voice seems to line up front/back with the speakers. When I experiment and put my old Infinity speakers back in the main system, the singer and the instruments seem to move further away by about 6 to10 feet. This is with a BHK Preamp mated to a pair of the M700 monoblocks for either speaker system.

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With my current open baffle speakers, singer typically appears 3ft back from my speaker plane, right where my P10 is. I put a lamp on top of it, giving the appearance of the lamp singing and allowing my mind to imagine the singer…


My preamp was also mentioned to have a more forward soundstage than others.

I usually like a soundstage far back behind the speakers I was sure…mainly because of the fascinating effect to have everything placed far from the speakers.

What I recognized with the new preamp was, that now the timpani in a large orchestra came at least just from as far back as I was used to…but now the soundstage also reached more towards the listening position with more front/back separation distance and a lot more palpability and involvement of the listener.

So it’s important to differentiate if equipment is or is not able to extend the soundstage to far back behind speakers, if it is just able to play either far back or up front or if it’s able to do both.

Often, equipment which rather plays also to the front (and therefore attracts some attention) also sounds more immediate and lively. Wilson speakers are such an example, too, while e.g. Avalon just sound the opposite way (in my experience).

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Jazznut. Yes. Thank you. This is what I was looking for. The bhk monos are described as ‘more forward’ compared to the reviewers Pass labs. If that seems to create more space between front and back - that is a good thing. If it’s just more forward - well then I scratch my head. I have big Maggie’s. I view them to create a less forward soundstage. I like these speakers obviously. But not so much the wilsons - which you speak of as having a more forward sound.

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Yes. It seems like an obvious statement for a speaker - and understandable. It seems a little vague for an amp for some reason. Maybe I am incorrect - but ‘more forward’ to me seems to indicate - more in alignment with the plane of the speaker. And I want things to sound like they are away from the speaker - not attached to it. But I certainly don’t like the singers sounding like they are 10 feet behind the speaker either. The drums can be back there.

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When a reviewer refers to electronics as being more or less forward they are not refering to the soundstage thrown by the speakers. Rather, they are referring to whether the listener hears the music as if they are sitting at the tenth row of the concert hall, one-third back, etc. PS Audio equipment is often referred to as throwing a front of hall presentation.

Consider the following quote from the Absolute Sound article:

“The sound presentation is somewhat more forward in character than many of the BHK Signature 300’s best rivals. For example, the Pass Labs 160.8 monoblocks I use as one of my references provide an excellent soundstage with the same degree of realism, but one whose sonic perspective is more mid-hall.”


I think finally if your whole setup is very revealing, such mentions loose importance behind the overall quality of sound, while in a less good setup or when speaker placement isn’t optimal, it can happen that it gets more importance because then a soundstage far back gets the main quality criteria as many other aspects of great sound aren’t revealed.

I’m also usually no big fan of Wilsons because they often sound rough, PA-like, forward, less refined etc. But they can sound great, especially with tubes and very selective solid state…they need it optimal to sound good imo.

I don’t know the BHK power amps, but from what I read I think they are what Maggies need. Transparent, fast, not cool or dry, with an emphasis on good soundstage. If your reviewer meant tonality or soundstage with “more forward” I don’t know. If tonality, it depends on your speaker/room matching which you’d prefer. If soundstage, it depends on which level of revealingness and imaging level your setup is I’d say.

In a simple, less fascinating setup, the distance of the soundstage behind the speakers often is the only “high end”-like quality. In great setups, this is secondary.

I have found with differences in speaker cables, power cables, digital cables and linear power supplies my same amplifier and pre can change soundstage width and depth dramatically. The metallurgy in the cable with the design of wire and weave constant can produce dramatic shifts. Especially Iconclast and wireworld designs is one such brand that has dramatic changes up and down the line as design is constant and one changes metallurgy. Unfortunately with expense comes markedly better performance in those brands with all electronics and speakers constant.

Thanks tor that elk. And in a review - I usually just cut to the chase ‘how did it sound’. So the statement you quoted could be stated ‘all the competitors sound less forward’… and do you think this is a positive or negative comment on the sonic signature of the bhk? That quote you bring up is exactly what I was trying to decipher. Is he stating something good…bad…neither? To me - forward sounding has a negative connotation. Now - I’m not saying that is true - I just am not sure I’ve heard of anyone saying ’I need a more forward sounding amp’.

I do not take the observation as good or bad, just different - just like sitting either closer or a bit further away when attending an orchestra concert.

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Well for the orchestra - I like to sit a bit closer because of the jump factor. :slight_smile:

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